An unexpectedly joyful comedy of manners that encompasses amateur dramatics, drive-by shootings, political campaigns and golf. When Sunny Batten hears from a brusque, ill-mannered stranger that her beloved mother Margaret has just died in a freak household accident, understandably she thinks that things can't get any worse. But when she discovers that her cranky informant is the son of the man who died alongside Margaret, and that the pair, unbeknownst to their offspring, were engaged to be married, matters take a distinct downward turn. As even-tempered, reasonable Sunny and arrogant, wise-cracking Fletcher take their positions at the funeral, the eyes and ears of the sleepy New Hampshire town of King George are fixed upon them. What excites the graveside gossips more than anything is the mourners' identical, prematurely grey hair. Mere coincidence, or the inescapable workings of shared DNA? With its vivid evocation of small-town life and a cast of unwittingly hilarious characters, 'The Dearly Departed' will prompt as many belly laughs as it will tears - and leave you hoping for more despatches from King George long after you've turned its final page.
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(197mm x 130mm x mm)
Fourth Estate Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Sondra 'Sunny' Batten and Fletcher Finn are unwillingly thrust into contact by the death of their parents - her mother, his father - who, together have been found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. The relationship between their parents, and their possible relationship to each other, becomes a source of gossip for others and curiosity for themselves as they deal with the aftermath of the unexpected joint death. Sunny and Fletcher's responses over the ensuing weeks are woven into a clever portrayal of small-town America and the claustrophobic minutiae of its citizen's daily lives. Despite the subject matter, this is a mild, gentle story whose intrigue whispers from the sidelines: are Sunny and Fletcher really half-siblings? What kind of life was Sunny's mother Margaret leading here? Frivolous vignettes of the side-characters intersperse what main action there is - the sobbing doctor who shames his wife by his public mourning for Margaret; the teenager who shoots the Chief of Police then swans into the local cafe wearing a stolen Rolex; the spoiled little-rich-girl congressional candidate for whom Fletcher is reluctantly working. The style of this novel would once have merited the description 'comedy of manners', and the writing often seems to hail from an earlier era, so that it comes a shock to find the odd sprinkling of F-words. Lipman - author of 'The Inn At Lake Devine' - allows her characters to reveal themselves as if without assistance from her. The happy ending comes as no particular surprise, but amiably draws the reader as towards the last cherry in the bowl. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Elinor Lipman
Elinor Lipman is the author of five other novels, including, The Ladies' Man and The Inn At Lake Devine, also published by Fourth Estate.